Republicans on Prince William’s Board of County Supervisors condemned inappropriate tweets made by John Gray, the GOP nominee for board chairman, during their meeting Tuesday.
Supervisors Jeanine Lawson, R-Brentsville, Pete Candland, R-Gainesville, Marty Nohe, R-Coles, Maureen Caddigan, R-Potomac, and Ruth Anderson, R-Occoquan criticized Gray’s tweets for their inappropriate content. At-large chairman Corey Stewart (R) was absent from the meeting.
Caddigan, who is not running for reelection, called Gray’s tweets, “a disgrace.”
“Shame on you John Gray, I hope you are listening to this today. That is a disgrace, and you’re supposed to be a Christian,” Caddigan said.
Gray’s tweets, which were first reported by the Washington Post, used racial stereotypes to mock African American political protests, displayed anti-Muslim and anti-gay sentiments and disparaged people whose political opinions he disagreed with.
John Gray, the GOP nominee for chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, i…
Gray paid a service called Tweetdeleter $30 to scrub his Twitter account and disclosed the payments on his latest campaign finance report, which is how they came to the attention of his Democratic opponent, Ann Wheeler. Her campaign team dug up the tweets and sent them to the Post.
Nohe, who lost to Gray in a Republican firehouse primary in May, said he had been hesitant to address the issue because it might “look like sour grapes [from] the guy that lost the election,” but he, too, used his supervisor’s time at the end of the meeting time to speak out against Gray’s tweets.
“When we choose to run for public office, we choose to take on a public leadership role that brings with it additional responsibilities,” Nohe said. “I think that it is incumbent on us as public officials to use good judgment in everything that we do. And if we have failed to use good judgment for the things we have done in the past, we should take ownership of those things prior to stepping forward and saying that we want to be leaders.”
The supervisors made the comments after three people spoke against Gray’s comments during citizens’ time. The speakers included Montclair resident Katelyn Page, who said she is a survivor of sexual assault. Page said she was especially troubled by Gray’s tweets making light of victims of sexual harassment and abuse.
Nohe and others commended Page for the “courage” she demonstrated while sharing her story publicly.
Candland said he “fully condemns” the thoughts in Gray’s tweets and advocated for more civility and goodwill between political candidates.
“Anyone who gets online and tweets or posts Facebook messages that are degrading or dehumanizing or trying to paint their political opponents or supporters of political opponents in a poor light should really not do that,” Candland said.
Lawson said she “absolutely” rejects Gray’s tweets.
Anderson said neither party is “innocent of calling names and making statements” and called Gray’s tweets “despicable.”
“I certainly don’t applaud those statements that were made,” Anderson said.
Doug Taggart, a Republican who is running for the Potomac District seat on the board of supervisors, criticized Gray’s tweets in an email to the Prince William Times on Friday.
Ian Lovejoy and D.J. Jordan, both GOP nominees for the 50th and 31st district House of Delegates’ seats, respectively, also condemned Gray’s tweets this week but stopped short of calling for him to drop out of the race.
Democratic state lawmakers and several Democratic candidates for Prince William offices are demanding that Gray withdraw his candidacy and have requested area Republican lawmakers do the same.
“From our view, any candidate that’s refusing to repudiate his behavior is telling Prince William County residents that they will tolerate misogyny, bigotry and hatred. We deserve to know where every Republican running in this county stands on his candidacy,” state Sen. Scott Surovell, D-36th, said in a press conference he called on the matter last week. Surovell’s district whose includes parts of Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford counties.
Referring to the county’s majority-minority population, Surovell said the language used in Gray’s tweets, “basically condemns two-thirds of the people he seeks to represent.”
Nearly one-third of Prince William’s residents are foreign-born, and more than half of the county’s population are members of minority groups.
In an interview Saturday, Sept. 28, Gray said he would “absolutely not” end his candidacy.
Gray noted that most of the tweets date back to 2016 and 2017, before he announced his candidacy for chairman of the county board.
“I did those as a private citizen, and most of those tweets were about Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton,” he added. “I agree that multiple ones in there are inappropriate and I take full ownership of it.”
Gray’s most recent comments came two days after he issued a statement apologizing for the tweets, which he released Thursday, Sept. 26. In the statement, Gray said he had “indulged in using Twitter to express opinions often in a callous, inappropriate and sarcastic manner.”
“I deeply regret my reckless use of social media and apologize for the hurt that I have caused members of the community that I love. I will not make excuses for these tweets, but rather issue now a sincere apology. I have fought for this country in the Marines because I love America, its people, our liberty, and our diversity,” Gray’s statement said.
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